Hey everyone, this weeks post is a video I worked on for eHow about stretches that can be done in the office or at your desk.
Aesthetically speaking, the shoulders can be a very underrated muscle to work. People always talk about having a nice chest or big arms but in my opinion nice shoulders will make the upper body look much better.
The shoulder is a very complicated area consisting of a lot of muscles. Within that one joint you have the 4 rotator cuff muscles and the chest an lats also insert in that area. The large muscle that we generally refer to when discussing the shoulders consists of 3 heads, the frontal, medial and lateral heads. It is important to understand this when working out the shoulders.
The first thing to take into account is that she shoulder joint is a very complex joint which assists in just about every upper body movement. Because of this, it serves many different and sometimes conflicting purposes. For this reason, it’s always important to exercise safely when working on the shoulders.
As I mentioned before, the shoulder joint is the home to the rotator cuff muscles, which rotate the arm internally and externally as well as assist in stabilizing the joint. I like to begin a shoulder workout by working (lightly) on the rotator cuff muscles as a way of reinforcing my shoulders stability for the heavier lifting.
The deltoids consist of 3 heads, the frontal (located on the front of the shoulder), the medial (located on the middle of the shoulder) and the lateral (located on the back of the shoulder) heads. In order to fully develop the shoulder one would need to work all three. Front raises are great for the frontal head. Lateral raises and upright rows are great for the medial head. Rear delt flys and reverse pec dec flys are great for the lateral head. Exercises like shoulder presses are also very effective because they require all three muscles working together as well as assistance from the rotator cuff muscles.
When training the shoulders, it’s important to look at it as a complicated joint which needs it’s parts worked both individually as well as together to get the best results.
Question: Hi Ryan, I would like to know if it is better to stretch before or after I work out. People tell me different things and it can be very confusing. Thanks for your help.
Answer: The proper order of exercise, especially when it comes to stretching is one of those topics where you can ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. While I will answer your question, I will also try to answer the larger order of how to combine all of the different training modalities.
Warm up– When we work out, it is always important to warm up. The warm up can be a light jog or performing specific exercises or movments slowly or with little resistence. The idea is to get the body lose and the blood flowing in preparation for the intense exercise. Working out cold can sometimes lead to injury.
Resistence training– Resistence or strength training should be the first thing you do after the warmup if you are planning on it. The energy stores and muscle fiber types needed for resistence training will be the first to go so it’s important that if you are going to strength train that you do it first as you will likely not have as much energy later.
Cardiovascular training– Cardiovascular training relies primiraly on oxygen so it should always be done after your strength training. Some people prefer to do it first and while this is fine, it will take away from the energy needed for the workout.
Flexibility– Flexibility, or stretching should always be saved for the end of the work out unless there is a specific injury or severe tightnedd which needs work on prior to a workout. Stretching prior to a workout can interfere with the neuromuscular system and can cause the muscles to work in a less than efficient manner.
Cooldown– A cooldoen should always be done at the end of a workout. A stretch can be a way of cooling down but if you chose not to stretch, it is important to do something which will serve to cool the body down, rather than to stop
The exercise of the week this week is a great total body exercise. It is an intermediate level exercise so male sure you are comfortable with lunges, have good balance as well as shoulder strength before trying.
Items needed: barbell or a bodybar (dumbbells can also be used)
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, deltoids, trapezius
Start- to begin, stand straight with your feet hip width apart. Hold that bar out in front of you at about shoulder width apart. The arms should be extended with a slight bend at the elbows.
Movement (a)– begin by taking a step forward. The step should be a comfortable distance, not too long and not too short, you should still feel balanced.
Movement (b)- this part of the movement will require that you do two things at the same time. First bend the back knee and drop down into a lunge. Second, at the same time, swing the bar overhead. Male sure to keep the elbows locked in place.
Movement (c)- from this position drive up through your front heel and back into the starting position. At the same time lower your arms back into the starting position.
The sword draw is a very versatile exercise. Is can be used for rehab, strength, ROM and posture.
Primary- deltoids (medial and lateral), infraspinatus, supraspinatus
Secondary- trapezius, rhomboids
Start- you can use a band, dumbbell or no weight for this movement. Stand with your knees slightly bent and the abdominals braced. The arm will start across your body next to the opposite hip.
Movement- while keeping the elbow locked, pull the arm up and across the body. Make sure to rotate the arm in the direction you are lifting so that your thumb is pointing behind you when you reach the top of the movement.
Tibialis anterior (primary)
Why are they good?
Calf circles are a very simple but effective exercise. Often times a person will feel pain in the front of their lower leg by the shins. This usually happens after beginning a running program or a longer/ faster than usual walk. People usually refer to this as “shin splints” but this is often not the case. The real culprit is an imbalance between the calves on the back of the leg and the tibialis anterior on the front. Most of us, especially those that play jumping sports and those that wear heals, have overly tight calves. This causes the tibialis anterior to grow underdeveloped. When the tibialis anterior is overworked, we will end up feeling pain and soreness. This exercise is a great way to develop the muscle.
Begin by positioning yourself like the first picture. Lie on your back and pull one leg towards your chest
The movement (a)
Following the second picture, you are going to perform foot circles in one direction. Make sure to go through as full a range of motion as you can. Once you have completed 15-20, move on to the next step.
Now you are going to perform foot circles in the opposite direction. Again, go through as complete a range as you can. After 15-20, move on to the final portion.
The final movement will be to dorsi flex and plantar flex the foot. This means that you are going to flex your foot as much as you can and then extend the foot as far as you can by pointing the toes. Alternate between the two for 15-20 reps each and then switch legs.
Question: I run regularly and whenever I run in the park, I see people stretching before they run. I’ve heard some people say to stretch before a run and some that say to stretch after. When is it best to stretch?
Answer: It is very common for people to go through a long stretching routine prior to running or any exercise for that matter. Generally it is not advisable to go through an intense static stretching routine before running. Static stretching would be the type in which you move into a position and hold that for a period of time. What happens is that in the short term, the stretch will reduce the contractile efficiency or the power that you can develop in the legs. This can cause a decrease in performance and sometimes lead to injury. The only time it is advisable to perform this kind of stretching before a workout or run would be if you have a muscle that is excessively tight and you would want to stretch only that muscle.
Before a workout or run, you definitely want to warm up the muscles. There are a few methods of doing so, a fast walk, light jog, various jumping exercises, dynamic stretches are all ways to warm up. Generally it’s bets to warm up for 8-10 minutes prior to exercise.
Flexibility is still very important as it reduces the risk or injury and fixes muscle imbalances. I definitely advise stretching but save it for the end of the workout.